10 Happy headlines to give you hope!

While coronavirus is spreading around the globe, there are also pockets of good news that are being overshadowed by the doom and gloom. So here, to put some perspective on the pandemic, are

10 Happy headlines to give you hope!


1.Fish and Swans Return to Venice’s Canals as Italy’s Lockdown Leaves the Water Uncannily Pristine



2.More than 500,000 people sign up to be NHS volunteers



3.Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution



4.Elton John And Co. Host Live Concert



5.Formula One Makes Breathing Aids For NHS



6.Germany Helps Out Italy And France



7.Dip in number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy fuels hope that outbreak may have peaked



8.Plasma from newly recovered patients from Covid -19 can treat others infected by Covid-19

Reference: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/doctors-push-treatment-coronavirus-blood-recovered-patients-n1158476


9.Apple reopens all 42 China stores



10.A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for six days in Wuhan, China.



Only through helping each other through this uncertain time will we emerge as a stronger nation on the other side. We at ESSENTIAL know that there is strength in numbers, so lets work together and not be a statistic

Big things start small – ZJ Essential Hardware


ZJ Furniture Fittings & Hardware t/a ZJ Essential Hardware is located in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga. The store opened its doors in early 2017 with a staff complement of 3 women. The store is owned and managed by a young woman, Zolani Mthethwa under the guidance and help of her father, Mr Mxolisi Sibanyoni.


The store’s turnover grew from a humble R500 000 in the first year (2017/18) to a promising growth of about R3 757 181 in the 11 months of the third year (2019/20). The store was initially located at Checkout Centre occupying about 85m2 with no yard. It moved to larger premises in Joubert Street of about 150m2 with a yard of about 1400m2 in December 2018. The store currently stock limited products which affects its competitiveness in the market. It currently stock items of plumbing, electrical, paint and accessories, tools, furniture fittings, PPE and few carpentry items like doors and sanitary ware.

The phenomenal growth of the store could be attributed to the valuable assistance, guidance and mentorship offered by the Essential Group. The store joined the family of Essential Group in September 2017. The Group was very patient and helped us in the following crucial areas during their site visits:

  • Advise on store layout and suitability
  • Advise on correct stock range and quantities (to avoid under and overstocking)
  • Sourcing and installation of the IQ system to assist in Point of Sale (POS) transactions and valuable management reports which assist in tracking sales, purchases, stock receival etc.
  • List of suppliers to obtain competitive pricing and annual rebates

Vermont Sales Celebrates its third year of supporting the UJ Young Designers Challenge at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

Overall winners announced for 2020 at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

When people collaborate, amazing things happen. For the last couple of years, Vermont Sales and the University of Johannesburg have collaborated with HOMEMAKERS for the inventive Young Designers Challenge.

This year the ideas generated behind the theme was to design products that change and improve people’s lifestyles. Top products were on display at the Expo where the winning design was chosen. Visitors could view all these innovations around smart water tanks, tech-savvy kitchen sinks and taps, home organisers and AI assistants, smart kitchenware and smart tools.

Prizes were awarded by Vermont Sales to the first 3 overall winners from some of their leading international brands. First place went to Katlego Madumo for his V56 Smart Hedge Trimmer, he was presented with the Tork Craft Tool Trolley complete with a full set of tools.  Second place was Loubser Meyer for his Triton mt101 smart combination saw who received a Festool C18 cordless drill set. Natalie Selibas took third place for her BinList receiving the latest Worx Pegasus multi-function worktable.

Choosing the winners was a difficult task because all the designs are in essence ground-breaking. To understand the process a little better we asked the team behind the young designer’s challenge, Martin Bolton, senior lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and Greg de Villiers from Sales at Vermont Sales a few questions.

What is the 2020 UJ Young Designers Challenge all about? “The challenge is an opportunity for students to link with industry partners to develop smart products which illustrate how they see these future products making people’s lives easier and better. The result was a collection of novel and interesting concept products which illustrate local South African Industrial Design talent. Kitchen appliances that think for you, workshop tools that are safer to use, and garden products saving water. “

“As the UJ Department of Industrial Design is preparing students to enter our local industry, the more we are aligned and participate with industry partners the better. This partnership with HOMEMAKERS and Vermont Sales has allowed our students to learn about the value of marketing and exhibitions from the HOMEMAKERS team, while at the same time understand more about the South African landscape of tools and appliances. The brief this year was undertaken as the third-year BA Industrial Design student’s exam project, as the final project of their 3 years Bachelor’s course. The brief for the project was the researching and designing of a smart appliance and tool systems which incorporates digital technology in order to improve the user experience and increase safety, said Bolton.

Vermont Sales invited the students to visit their warehouse and tool demonstration centre and took them through a large amount of novel, different, useful and smart tools. This sparked a lot of interest and students used this at the starting point for their industrial design process of product development.

“Vermont Sales as a South African business is keenly interested in our people. At our core, our business is driven by innovation. By supporting this initiative, we are reminded of this and this presented an opportunity to give back so that we can demonstrate our commitment. It is important to expose our brands. The design challenge affords us a unique way to do so while at the same time providing a platform to young designers,” said Greg de Villiers brand manager at Vermont Sales.”

The design brief is often very wide and futuristic. While we have not developed any product yet, the door to this is very much open. We have employed former students to work in our own design department. This has provided enormous value to us as well as gainful employment. This year the students have done exceptional well and we congratulate the overall winners for their unique innovative designs,” said de Villiers

Caption Overall Winners of the 2020 Vermont Sales UJ Young Designers Challenge at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

  1. Costa Stavrakis Festool, Vermont Sales, 2nd place Loubser Meyer, Mbongeni Nhlapo Vermont Sales Training Academy, Katlego Madumo overall winner, third placed Natalie Selibas, Samantha van der Merwe (Camara)Communication Executive Home Makers and Martin Bolton, senior lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg.
  2. Katlego Madumo overall winner with his V56 Smart Hedge Trimmer was presented with the Tork Craft Tool Trolley complete with a full set of tools.
  3. Second placed Loubser Meyer for his Triton mt101 smart combination saw who received a Festool C18 cordless drill set.
  4. Natalie Selibas took third place for her BinList receiving the latest Worx Pegasus multi-function worktable.
  5. The Vermont Sales UJ Young Designers Challenge stand at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

The Vermont Sales brand range is available from all leading suppliers countrywide, for more information contact, Vermont Sales on 011 314 7711 or visit their web site www.vermontsales.co.za Trade enquiries welcome


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Essential Hosts”Understanding the Retail Customer” training course at Site 66

Towards the end of last year W & R Seta presented a grant of R18 000 per retail company registered with W & R Seta, for the training of 2 staff members within the Essential Group

E-Training Academy in partnership with Relate-Ed as training provider, developed 2 retail training courses, namely; –   Understanding the Retail Customer and Understand the Basics of Retail Operations.

The opportunity for training 2 staff members was offered to all Essential Members, the training cost and all other associated costs was included.

 The first training course – Understanding the Retail Customer started on the 2nd and 3rd March, whilst the second training course on – Understand the Basics of Retail Operations will be on the 9th and 10th  March.

 We have the following members in attendance: Nigel U-Build, Bargain House Hardware, Elcarbo Hardware, Graaf Reinet Hardware, Plusten and Essential Head Office.